Lee, NH – The Granite State Pro Stock Series invaded the Lee USA Speedway on Friday night, with some 30 teams filling the infield pit area in preparation for the night’s racing action. Three heats, a consolation round, and the 100-lap main event were on the card for the GSPSS, with the weekly Late Model Sportsmen, Hobby Stocks, and Ironmen filling out the program.
Lee’s regular NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions put on an entertaining show for the fans, with Groton, MA driver Geoff Rollins making his first trip to victory lane in 2014 in the Prime Storage and Warehouse Late Model Sportsman 30-lap main event.
Fresh off a heat win earlier in the night, Ray Dinsmore of Alfred, ME broke out to the early lead, but he was quickly knocked off the point by rookie contender Mark Parenteau of Groveland, MA, who took the lead on lap three aboard the Brian House entry.
Parenteau set the pace until just past the crossed flags, when Hooksett’s Niko Maniatis made his move to the point on lap 16. Rollins, meanwhile, was methodically working his way to the front, and with just five laps remaining, he made the final lead pass of the race and took command.
Two-time winner Alby Ovitt clawed his way from deep in the pack and caught Rollins with the laps winding down, but he couldn’t mount a serious challenge and had to settle for runner-up. Maniatis came home with third place honors, followed by Jimmy Russell of Brentwood, Tom Harton and Kyle Roy of Barrington, Parenteau, Patrick Stewart of Beverly, MA, Goffstown’s David Piper, and Groton, MA veteran Bobby Melvin.
In one of their most competitive races of the season, seven different drivers took turns out front in the David’s Race Cars and Components Hobby Stock 25-lapper, but in the end, it was defending Hobby Champ Patrick Tanguay getting his first victory of the 2014 season.
Rookie Zac Fraser of Nottingham led the field to Bryon Callen’s green flag, and he held the point for the first four circuits before giving up the top spot to Lebanon, ME racer Chris Harding, a former Ironman champion here at Lee. Harding found trouble just after getting to the lead, and he spun from contention in a cloud of tire smoke on the frontstretch.
Veteran Brian Thompson of Sandown was next to set the pace, with heavy pressure from Tanguay seeing the pair swap the lead back and forth as they battled side by side for the next several laps. Thompson led laps six through ten, but Tanguay nosed ahead to gain the advantage at the line on lap 11.
Thompson was back on top for lap 12, but Tanguay made it stick on his next pass, taking over to lead the field for the next seven laps. Billy Clement of Manchester made a late-race pass on Tanguay and went on for the apparent win, but he car was found to be outside the rules, and he was disqualified after the race.
For Tanguay, it was win number one of his title defense season, and kept him in the points lead with just over a month left in the 2014 campaign. Merrimack’s Jim Piasecnzy took second place honors, with Thompson, Nashua’s Dennis Dumas, Torrey Kovalesky, Jay Avery of Berwick, ME, Harding, Dave MacDonald of Tewksbury, MA, and Matt Kawejsza rounding out the top ten.
The Benson Lumber and Hardware Ironman competitors were in for their second double-feature night of the season, with Wayne Osborne of Raymond and his Red Cup Racing teammate Evan Horvath of Nottingham taking down the wins. Steve George and Jesse Tellier split the 4-cylinder wins.
Austin Elliott was out to the lead at the drop of the green in the first race, but he quickly gave way to the charge of fellow Epping driver Hannah Shaw, who pulled away from the pack and was still out front looking for her first win when five to go was shown to the field.
But Osborne was on the move, and he slipped past on lap 16 to take command, leading the final four circuits to score the win. Shaw collected her best finish of the year in second, with Horvath, Travis Hollins of Milford, Jeff Bennett of Epping, Tyler Mitchell of Dracut, MA, Elliott, Epping’s Jeff Nadeau, and Christin DeStefano of Tewksbury, MA next across the stripe.
In the nightcap, young Elliott looked like he might have a shot at his first feature win, leading the first 17 laps of the 20-lap run, but Horvath got past with three to go and went on to score the victory. Osborne closed out the night in second, with DeStefano joining them on the podium in third.
The speedy Granite State Pro Stocks closed out the night’s action with a highly-entertaining 100-lap main event, with very few cautions slowing the events rapid-fire pace. Former Lee USA track champion Larry Gelinas looked to be in the catbird’s seat until the late going, when a caution gave Joey Pole one last shot on the restart.
Pole worked past Gelinas in the high groove to take away the lead, and he went on to post the win by .573 seconds. Gelinas had to settle for second, with Derek Griffith, Matt Frahm, Dillon Moltz, Barry Gray, Mike O’Sullivan, Joe Squeglia, Tyler Fiscus, and Keith Caruso the rest of the top ten.